Human Spirit – Dialogue: Live at the Earshot Jazz Festival (2012)

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Human Spirit, a newly named Seattle-based jazz group with a lengthy history, offers an old-fashioned guest star-packed blowing session on Dialogue, recorded live at Tula’s Jazz Club during Earshot Jazz Festival in October of last year.

The band’s core trio of trumpeter Thomas Marriott (composer of half of the album’s eight tunes), altoist Mark Taylor and drummer Matt Jorgensen are joined by Orrin Evans at the piano and Essiet Essiet on bass — and some interesting new discoveries follow.

Marriott, Taylor and Jorgensen’s lengthy time together as improvisers has created an interlocking sense of community, a kind of musical telepathy forged through terrific earlier efforts on a pair of albums led by Jorgensen, and a trio of dates by Marriott — including 2008’s interesting Crazy: The Music of Willie Nelson and 2011’s Human Spirit, the recording with organist Gary Versace from which they eventually took their name. On many of those earlier efforts, however, featured guests seemed to push them to unforeseen heights — and Dialogue (issued, like their namesake album from last year, on Origin Records) is no different.

The involving complexity of styles — hot/cool then sweet/sour — between Marriott and Taylor (with whom Jorgensen split writing duties on the other half of the tracks on Dialogue) are once again accentuated in this fiery, collaborative setting. Time and time again, the impish energy of Evans and the veteran savvy of Essiet move this trio’s long-held center in the most interesting of ways.

Different voices spark bursts of fresh creativity amongst the old friends, like lightbulbs popping on over their heads, on key tracks like the rumbling “Ridgecrest,” which at times recalls Thelonious Monk’s “Green Chimneys”; the undulating “Reversal of Fortune,” with its tangy groove; “Pelham Gardens,” a tandem-fired blast of hard bop that references Herbie Hancock’s “One Finger Snap”; and “After Hours,” with its appropriately smoke-filled urbanity.

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Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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